Airbnb IPO makes CEO Brian Chesky $6.5 billion richer

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Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky was at a loss for words when his company went public Thursday — but he wasn’t at a loss for wealth.

Chesky got $6.5 billion richer as the vacation-rental giant’s stock price more than doubled in its blockbuster market debut, putting him among the ranks of the world’s 200 wealthiest people, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.

The massive initial public offering drove the 39-year-old’s net worth up to about $11 billion, giving him a larger fortune than record executive David Geffen and hedge-fund tycoon Steve Cohen, the ranking shows.

Chesky appeared speechless on Thursday when a TV interviewer told him Airbnb’s share price was set to open at more than double the listing price of $68.

“That’s the first time I’ve heard that number,” he told Bloomberg Television, tripping over his words. “Um, that is, that’s … I … you know, when we … in April, we raised money, it was a debt financing … uh … that price would have priced us around $30. So I … I don’t know what else to say. It’s … that’s a … that’s a very … that’s … um … that is … yeah … I’m very humbled by it.”

Chesky noted that Airbnb’s shares would have been priced at just about $30 apiece when it secured a debt financing in April as the coronavirus crisis hammered its business.

“”Having stared at what felt like an abyss for travel, and then to kind of rally together with thousands of people and rebuild the company from the ground up, something that I think is stronger than it ever was before the pandemic, … I feel incredibly fortunate,” he said.

Chesky has helped grow Airbnb from a few air mattresses in his San Francisco apartment into a network of 4 million hosts in about 100,000 cities around the world. The bulk of his fortune comes from his 67 million shares in the company and another 9.2 million options he owns, Bloomberg says.

The NASDAQ market site displays Brian Chesky on their billboard
The NASDAQ market site displays an AirBnb sign featuring CEO Brian Chesky on their billboard on the day of their IPO in Times Square on Thursday.
REUTERS

Chesky co-founded the company in 2008 with his former roommate, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk, who each own smaller stakes giving them fortunes of about $9.8 billion, according to the Billionaires Index.

Airbnb’s highly anticipated IPO gave the company a market value of $86 billion — outpacing established rival Booking Holdings. The Priceline.com owner had a market cap of roughly $85 billion as of Friday morning.